In his new book, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the now 84-year-old national security adviser to U.S. President Jimmy Carter, addresses the issue of what the world would look like if the U.S. were no longer a super power.

Seldom before has any author written so clearly, so openly, so bluntly: “Too rich to be relevant to the world's poor, [Europe] attracts immigration but cannot encourage imitation. Too passive regarding international security. Too self-satisfied, it acts as if its central political goal is to become the world's most comfortable retirement home. Too set in its ways, it fears multicultural diversity.”

Europe as a model for the world, as a pole of peacefulness, economic success and global influence. What European politicians would like so much to be true is a non-issue for Brzezinski, the now 84-year-old former national security adviser to U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Europe is the past; the future belongs to Asia. But it could, as Brzezinski describes in his new book "Strategic Vision," still belong to the U.S. if it gets its act together and gets its domestic problems under control.

The native Pole Brzezinski has been an American long enough to argue like an American and to explain to the Europeans that they cannot do it. But he doesn’t leave it at pointing an accusatory finger at the old continent. The U.S. has too long emphasized “material wealth, on consumption and on the propagation of self-indulgence as the definition of the good life.” The reward for that, according to political realist Brzezinski: The U.S. is in serious danger of losing its supremacy as a global power.

Strategic Vision is Provocative and Worth Reading

Somewhat alarmist, but not less plausible because of it, Brzezinski describes what the world could look like if the U.S. were no longer the most important player. Not that China would move into first place. Beijing would have to share this position with numerous other regional powers. Russia would perhaps make a grab for Georgia, Belarus and Azerbaijan; China perhaps for Taiwan and Korea. The Near East would sink a bit more into chaos, to the extent that is still be possible. Those who lost the U.S. as a protective nuclear power will look for other nations in the position to take them under protection. In short: Without the U.S., chaos threatens the world, concludes Brzezinski. His book may be lacking the crucial recommendations to avert this development. But the book is certainly provocative and also worth reading.